A positive of the Coronavirus Lockdown in 2020 was the opportunity to share cooking skills with the children – guess it also helped pass the time and we all enjoyed the results.
We planned a weekly menu which included food that neither of them were used to preparing. Taking it in turns and introducing Themes. One week we cooked food from countries we would like to, or have, visited – India, China, Hungary, USA. We also prepared British national dishes and Oliver learnt how to make Yorkshire Puddings and Sage & Onion stuffing whilst cooking a roast chicken dinner.
He also introduced us to UNI food by cooking a meal he often cooks himself. It involved chicken, mashed potatoes, spices and herbs – not sure if it has a name but smelt and tasted delicious.
I purchased a new gadget – a Waffle iron. It did take some practice to perfect the technique but Oliver was a willing participant ?
His favourite cake is a Victoria Sponge and one day he decided to learn how to make one. We used the traditional method I had learnt at school although I permitted the use of a food mixer rather than a wooden spoon – I am really not that cruel.
The cake was very impressive, better than any I turn out.
Emma is already a very proficient chef and now was keen to learn how to make pasta. I know that the shops sell good quality dried and fresh pasta yet there is something very therapeutic about making your own. A stress-reducing activity I used frequently when I worked.
Mixing flour and eggs, then kneading the dough could transport me to an Italian lakeside kitchen away from the trials of the day.
Her first attempt was spaghetti and again, we used the traditional process although we used a mechanical cutter rather than a sharp knife (I have used a pizza cutter on occasion, and it does work well). Once cut the spaghetti was spread over the clothes airer to dry whilst we prepared the meatballs.
Another day Emma made Orecchiette using an attachment on the Food Mixer. This method has its own challenges as the pasta has to be crumbly rather than a dough and good hand/eye co-ordination is required in order to cut the correct length. One hand needs to operate the blade whilst the other hand separates and spreads the pasta shapes as they fall. This also needs to dry for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.
We enjoyed the orecchiette along with a homemade marinara sauce, cheese, and roasted peppers.
Next on the list was Gnocchi, this is a mixture of potatoes and flour which is hand shaped then cooked in the same way as pasta. We both decided this was more tricky and it was easier to buy. Although we did enjoy eating the finished product.
The fourth, and most difficult was Ricotta and Basil Tortellini. A learning process for me too as I had not made these for a long time (like 2 decades ago). Once pasta dough is made and rolled thinly it was cut into circular shapes and the filling prepared. It is easy to overfill these so be careful. Turning and twisting to obtain the correct shape was fiddly – but by watching a short YouTube video (www.youtube.com )
Emma was soon producing professional looking Tortellini.
These were accompanied by a simple, but gorgeously tasteful Tomato, Garlic and Basil sauce and it all disappeared.
Emma ‘It took 3 hours to make and 10 minutes to eat’
‘Sign of a good meal’ said Oliver.